New research has confirmed that students from poorer families are more likely to be deterred from university by tuition fee debt.
A study by the UCL Institute of Education compared attitudes of people considering applying to university in England in 2002 and 2015, during which time tuition fees increased from about £1,100 per year to £9,000.
It found that young people in general had become accustomed to higher fees – but worries about debt levels had risen among low-income families.
Young people have become more ready to accept student debt, seeing it as a necessary part of getting a degree. But there were different attitudes among low-income families, who were more resistant to debt than their wealthier counterparts.
Researcher, Prof Claire Callender said there were still significant differences in application levels depending on young people’s backgrounds. “Working-class young people are far more likely than students from other social classes to avoid applying to university because of debt fears,” she said.
Even when poorer youngsters had the same exam results, they were less likely to apply to university than wealthier ones.